Forgotten agents of progress. Rodrigo González-Alegre (2)




An insurrectionary July 18

A state of siege was decreed throughout the country after the military uprising that took place at the end of June 1854 by Leopoldo O’Donnell (1809-1867) and Sweet Sunday (1808-1869), the province had been under the command of Field Marshal Pascual de Real y Reyna (1796-1868). He had fought in the Carlist army and lived in exile until shortly before being in charge of the military government. His decision to arm henchmen to maintain public order was answered on July 10 in a meeting of the City Council with the largest taxpayers and the neighborhood, where González-Alegre proposed to entrust the tranquility of the city to the neighbors. Whether it was to understand that he was referring to the reorganization of the Militia, a probable case, or for other reasons, days later he was dismissed as a councilor by order of the Military Government, given on the 8th. He would soon return to the institutional sphere due to the success of the anti-government protests , spread throughout the national territory since the 7th began to spread the Manzanares Manifesto written by Antonio Canovas, O’Donnell’s secretary.

On the 17th, the Madrid population erected barricades, demanding an end to the prevailing government system, and stormed the houses of the reviled Luis Sartorius, José de Salamanca and María Cristina de Borbón, The Queen Mother. General Fernández de Córdoba (1809-1883), while assuming the Presidency of the Government, tried to stop the uprising aided by, among others, Colonel Joaquín de la Gándara, his partner in the railway project from Aranjuez to Toledo. The failure of his endeavor gave way on the 19th to a Board of Salvation that rushed to reestablish the National Militia and place itself under the orders of General Espartero, who on the 29th would make his triumphal entry into the capital of the kingdom, coming from Zaragoza, to preside over the coalition of liberals and progressives that took power.

In Toledo, responding to Manzanares Manifesto and following the examples of Barcelona and Zaragoza, in revolt since the 17th, a provisional Government Junta was formed on the 18th, presided over by the brigadier, close to O’Donnell, Antonio Ramírez Arcas (1809-1865), general commander of the province. The provincial commissioner of mountains, Onofre Rodríguez Varo, along with González-Alegre, the booksellers Blas Hernández and Juan Bueno, the lawyer León González and the merchant Manuel López del Valle, all members of the National Militia, were part of it. Ramírez Arcas would replace Real and Reyna in the military government, as well as in the civil government the ultra-conservative Miguel María de Fuentes (1805-1878), agricultural owner of Santa Cruz de la Zarza, until the moracho lawyer Francisco Carranza Maldonado was appointed to such put by the Board. This would be made official a few days later, after ordering the dissolution of the Diputación and incorporating representatives of the different judicial parties, although it became only advisory to the central and provincial governments at the beginning of August.

The insurrection will triumph in Toledo without any altercation thanks to all of them, determined to defend the freedoms obtained and to prevent the objectives of recovering constitutional legality and moralization formulated in the Manifesto from being overwhelmed. They maintained their positions until the arrival of the new Governor, Mateo Navarro Zamorano (1809-1865), and the election of Deputies in Cortes. González-Alegre assumed the vice-presidency of the organization and the Military Command, once reorganized, while Blas Hernández was appointed Provincial Deputy Inspector of the same. The City Council was in turn constituted on July 22 with representatives of the various liberal tendencies, from the moderates, in the case of the mayor, José Víctor Zenón Acevedo, and the 1st deputy mayor, Dámaso de Arza, to the republicans, such as Mariano Villanueva. Thus the urban foundations of what would later become the Liberal Union.

A Toledo in the Constituent Courts

On September 10, about 800 people from the twelve judicial parties met in the theater of the provincial capital, summoned by the Junta and the National Militia, to appoint candidates for Deputies in constituent Cortes. It would be the only time they were chosen in Toledo and not from the Interior. Those who obtained a certificate at the beginning of October – none of them born, that is, based outside the province – were part of that candidacy. Rodrigo González-Alegre obtained the second highest number of votes, behind Ambrosio González, Gálvez’s natural lawyer, and ahead of Pedro Nolasco Mansi, owner and member of the Provisional Government Board for Puente del Arzobispo, and the provincial leader Julián de Huelbes by Ocaña. The lawyer and owner of Talavera Mariano Jaén, the secretary of the Provincial Council, Manuel López Infantes, and three other members of the Board were also chosen – the agricultural owner Félix Martín, from Illescas, the Quintanar judge Mateo Bazán and the retired soldier Luis Carrillo, from Sonseca-.

González-Alegre, the youngest of all, came to join a group whose members already had parliamentary experience or, as in the case of Mansi from 1841 on, of provincial deputies. He himself had to excuse his early childhood in the course of the chamber sessions inaugurated on November 8, but he was going to be singled out, in the first place, for initiatives aimed at consolidating the achievements of the July uprising and democratizing the institutions. Thus, he complained that addicts to the deposed government continued to occupy provincial positions or that governors repressed opinions contrary to their designs of elected positions such as mayors and demanded to accentuate the regime of incompatibilities, even supporting the suppression of the right of ministers to receive remuneration after their termination. Also concerned about the news about the imminence of a new Carlist riot that would affect the towns of Toledo and that it was effectively organizing itself, he demanded the reinforcement of the National Militia to face it. The insurrection broke out at the end of May 1855, especially in Aragon, after a succession of previous aborted attempts, but the requested reinforcement was only authorized on June 2, after the Provincial Council, chaired by the former mayor Joaquin Perez Gonzalez (1797-c. 1865), will submit a new application.

It also affected the “commitment made” with its voters to urgently achieve the suppression of the contribution of consumption and door rights, one of the aspirations at the origin of the popular uprising. In order to satisfy it, he presented on November 28, together with the other Deputies for Toledo, a bill that served as the basis for the development of other more elaborate ones. The measure would be finally agreed on February 9, 1855. His defense did not prevent him from promoting, against the majority position of Congress, a flexible application of the law that would not hinder the claim of some municipalities to adopt arbitrations to meet peremptory needs. It collided, as the former secretary of the provincial corporation argued in front of him Manuel López Infantes, with the criterion of attributing to the Diputaciones such power, reserved to the civil governors and, ultimately, to the Government from 1856.

However, most of his interventions affected the Toledo population in a special way. Sometimes they responded to particular interests, such as their claim, from the perspective of the bourgeois principle of free trade, for measures to prevent the auctions of confiscated assets from being left in the hands of Madrid speculators and to entrust their management, concentrated in the capital, to provincial officials; or as its support for the claims of the sword industry to be able to bring its products to the market on equal terms with the national arms factory.

The railway connection with Madrid

Other issues had to do, on the contrary, with general interests. It was the case of the improvement of the state of the highway from Toledo to Madrid and, above all, of the railway line that connected with Madrid. The 1854 concession had been canceled. In the first place, for being one more of the speculative businesses related to the corruption of the last moderate governments. This is how he denounced it at its origin Ruperto Navarro Zamorano, brother of the governor of Toledo appointed after the events of July. On the other hand, its promoters, Fernando Fernandez of Cordoba, fleeting president of the Council of Ministers, and Joaquín de la Gándara (1817-1880), facing the popular uprising in Madrid with arms, and José de Zaragoza (c. 1810-1869), close collaborator of the same Luis Sartorius, they were fled and banned. In short, a new Railroad Law, promulgated in June 1855, was being processed, with the prominent participation of the Toledo deputies, which would put limits on speculation.

While the legal project was being discussed, González-Alegre and Manuel Lopez Infantes they managed to get the government to be favorable to a new rail link from Toledo to the Mediterranean line that could be extended to Talavera. Simultaneously, he supported the idea of ​​a railway from Madrid to Portugal following the Tagus valley, through Torrijos, Talavera, Cáceres and Badajoz, presented by Mansi and parliamentarians from Toledo and Cáceres. It was intended to be built at the same time as another line through the Guadiana valley proposed by the deputies of Ciudad Real. The opposition to the idea by the Minister of Public Works, Francisco de Luxán (1799-1867), by Práxedes Mateo Sagasta and of Badajoz and Andalusian deputies, interested in taking advantage of the route between Ciudad Real and Badajoz, where Luxán was a deputy, to link with the mining areas of Almadén and Bélmez, would prevent the approval of the project until ten years later, when the exploitation began of the phosphate mines discovered near Cáceres, which Segismundo Moret (1838-1913), future president of the Council of Ministers, acquired in 1876, then finally launching the construction of that railway. However, the connection project with Madrid continued, through a branch that started from Castillejos, after the City Council signed a long-term debt contract with the financier José de Salamanca, promoted by Gonzalez-Alegre Y Ambrosio Gonzalez. A commission chaired by Félix Martín, in which Rodrigo González-Alegre Acting as secretary, he was in charge of preparing the corresponding bill, approved on June 26, 1856 with the consequent joy of the Toledo population. In any case, the route planned for the line by Cáceres, forced by the interests of the investing capitalists, and the resistance of a good part of the towns of the province to assume expenses closed the door definitively to a possible extension of the Toledo branch. .

The parliamentary work of Gonzalez-Alegre it would be discontinued at the end of the progressive biennium. The arrival to power of the Conservatives, with Ramón Narváez (1799-1868) at the helm, frustrated in 1857 and 1858 their attempts to access Congress again. Such circumstances explain that, despite his role in bringing the railway, he was not invited to the inauguration of the Toledo railway station on June 12, 1858.

José Luis del Castillo, researcher, author of the section
José Luis del Castillo, researcher, author of the section “Toledo, feigned and true”


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